Thursday, 20 January 2011
Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill 2010 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)
Mary O'Rourke (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
Yes, perhaps. However, the Deputy should be aware that it all depends from whom it comes. No doubt in the months ahead, Deputy Michael D. Higgins will be sealing many such letters with a great many kisses. I recall when my sons were in college and the pleas for money would be made. I used to sit down and write a letter agreeing to send money but asking what it was being spent on and whether they could give an account of themselves. The romance of the post is significant. I do not mean romance in a love sense but rather the work of the post.
Generally speaking, I am aware of where the Minister, Deputy Ryan, lives. Clearly, it is in Dublin South. However, I am unsure if he noticed, as have those of us in rural Ireland, that during the time of the severe snow and frost, there was not one day when the postman did not come to my door. He would ring the doorbell if there was a large package that would not fit. He talked to me and I to him. I realise this may sound fey and silly but it is not. It is an intrinsic part of people's lives to receive and send mail. I realise the universal service obligation is being underpinned for seven years to allow it to continue if it is not paying its way. What will happen after that? For example, I have no doubt we will not be able to deliver to Valentia Island. The competition will not deliver up to the Geevagh Mountains in County Sligo. They will take the new smart postcodes and deliver to those areas at a manageable rate. What, however is to happen, to rural Ireland? Seven years is a long time. What will happen after 2018 if An Post finds it cannot sustain the costs of delivering to rural areas? It used to be An Post's proud boast that up to 76% of all letters were delivered within 24 hours.